Review Category : National News

Are Deadly Small Plane Accidents on the Rise?

Photo Credit: Zack Arceneaux(NEW YORK) — Despite two deadly small plane accidents this week that killed a total of three people, including a young girl, and one Thursday that injured a family of four, experts say that it isn’t necessarily a trend.

“Summer weather is better for flying so we have increased flying activity so we always see an increase in accidents in the summer unfortunately,” said Steve Hedges, the head of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

A family of four — the pilot, his wife and their teenage children — were pulled from the wreckage of a small plane that crashed Thursday in Helena, Alabama. They all suffered injuries.

On Wednesday, pilot Devon Logan, 52, a real estate investor, missed the airport landing and clipped a store roof before crashing into a San Diego, California, shopping center parking lot.

She was seriously injured. The other passenger, 78, was killed.

And on Sunday, a father and his young daughter, 9, were hit by a small plane making an emergency landing on a Florida beach.

Neither the pilot, Karl Kokomoor, 57, nor the passenger on the plane, David Theen, 60, were injured in the landing. Kokomoor, an engineering company president, expressed his sorrow, saying he’d intended to put the plane in water but the nose had ended up on the beach.

He said he never saw the pair. The girl later died.

Despite the recent spate of accidents, small-plane deaths are actually dropping, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In the last five years, the number of deaths has decreased from 479 to 387 and that number dipped significantly last year.

But private flying still had the highest accident rate, according to the NTSB, which has promoted more training for pilots.

“I don’t believe it’s a trouble category,” said Earl Weener of the NTSB. “I think it’s just an area that is ripe for safety improvements and it would be very fruitful to make safety improvements.”

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Company ‘Shocked’ After Demoted Employee Allegedly Shot CEO

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A gunman killed himself Thursday after shooting his boss in the Bank of America building in Chicago’s financial district, authorities said.

The victim was Steven LaVoie, the CEO of ArrowStream, which the suspect also worked for, the company said.

The suspect, identified as Tony DeFrances, had been demoted last Friday, police said. The company website listed DeFrances as Chief Technology Officer.

The suspect allegedly shot LaVoie before turning the gun on himself, police said.

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today,” ArrowStream said in a statement released Thursday evening. “Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well being of our ArrowStream family. We want to assure our customers that our business continuity plan is in place, and our operations will continue to function normally.”

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Company ‘Shocked’ After Demoted Employee Allegedly Shot CEO

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A gunman killed himself Thursday after shooting his boss in the Bank of America building in Chicago’s financial district, authorities said.

The victim was Steven LaVoie, the CEO of ArrowStream, which the suspect also worked for, the company said.

The suspect, identified as Tony DeFrances, had been demoted last Friday, police said. The company website listed DeFrances as Chief Technology Officer.

The suspect allegedly shot LaVoie before turning the gun on himself, police said.

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today,” ArrowStream said in a statement released Thursday evening. “Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well being of our ArrowStream family. We want to assure our customers that our business continuity plan is in place, and our operations will continue to function normally.”

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Police Search Kidnapping Suspect’s Home, Storage Container

iStock/Thinkstock(GORHAM, N.H.) — Police have searched the home and storage unit of Nathaniel Kibby, the man being held in connection with the disappearance of Abigail Hernandez.

Kibby, 34, is being held on $1 million bail after being charged with kidnapping Hernandez in October of last year.

Photos have surfaced showing police searching Kibby’s property in a trailer park in Gorham, New Hampshire, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hernandez returned to her Conway, New Hampshire, home on July 20 and is now back in the care of her mother, but questions remain about her disappearance.

The charging document said Kibby “confined [Hernandez] with a purpose to commit an offense against her” but the rest of the case documents are sealed.

The attorney general’s office, which has been heading the investigation alongside the FBI, has said it will not be releasing any further information about the search warrant issued for Kibby’s property or anything they’ve learned from their conversations with Abigail until Kibby returns to court on Aug. 12.

That hasn’t stopped the investigation from moving forward, however.

Photos of the search on Kibby’s home and nearby shipping container showed signs posted on the container that said “Beware of the Dog” and “No Trespassing.”

When Kibby was arrested at his home Monday, Associate Attorney General Jane Young told ABC News that there were no other suspects.

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Several Injured After Car Crashes into Palo Alto Restaurant

iStock/Thinkstock(PALO ALTO, Calif.) — Multiple people are injured after a car crashed into a building in Palo Alto, California on Thursday.

Around lunch time, an elderly driver accidentally drove onto the curb at University Cafe– a restaurant by Stanford University– hitting five people.

One victim is in critical condition. The other four victims and the driver suffered minor injuries.

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Inside Texas’ New Family-Friendly Detention Center for the Undocumented

Serena Marshall/ABC News(KARNES, Texas) — A model detention facility for moms with children crossing the border illegally is scheduled to open Friday.

The brand new facility in Karnes, Texas, is designed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be family friendly with drawings on the walls, toy rooms and classrooms for children, and full medical facilities.

The 532-bed building, at a cost of $140 per day per person, is the third ICE facility to house mothers with children, but the first specifically modified with their needs as a consideration.

While residents will not be free to leave, they are free to roam the grounds, visit the library, call family with pre-paid phone cards, play outdoors, use computers — excluding accessing Facebook and Twitter — and participate in soccer matches, religious concerts and church services.

The average stay is 23 days, according to ICE, and while it is still a detention center, those inside will not be called detainees, but residents. The guards are relabeled “resident assistants,” and the cells are “family suites” that can accommodate up to eight people.

In an ICE statement on the pending opening, officials said it “was done in order to expand the agency’s capacity to house adults with children who have been apprehended at the border and placed into expedited removal proceedings.”

Lawyers will be provided to the “residents” pro bono and the facility even has an immigration courtroom where judges will decide asylum cases via videoconference. There will also be medical professionals, including dentists and mental health specialists, on scene 24 hours a day.

The residents will be given six sets of civilian clothes, three meals a day, and access to snacks 24 hours a day, officials said.

“ICE’s family detention facilities are an effective and humane alternative to maintain family unity as families await the outcome of immigration hearings or return to their home countries,” the statement read.

“I have had personal interest in making sure that this facility meets all the legal requirements that are under any settlement, any other family detention center, and I’m completely confident that we are meeting the standards and even exceeding those standards,” said Enrique Lucero, field office director for ICE.

Several years ago a lawsuit accused a similar faculty to be too similar to a prison, making this facility the first outfitted in accordance to civil detention standards and reforms.

The outstanding question as the facility is set to open Friday is how long the facility can remain operational as Congress prepares to go on recess without addressing the border supplemental request for funds.

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Alleged Porch Thief Arrested After Staring at Security Camera

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) — An accused thief’s curious look at a surveillance camera led to his arrest for allegedly stealing a FedEx package for an Indianapolis porch.

Daniel Nelms, 21, was taken into custody and charged with one count of level 6 felony on Wednesday night.

Daniel Dillon said he had been expecting a package of a pair of $300 diamond earrings from Zale.com for his wife. He never received the package, but when he checked the delivery status on FedEx, it said the package had been delivered already. The Dillons then checked their surveillance video footage.

The crystal clear video gave Dillon quite a shock. Only two minutes after the delivery man dropped off the package, a man ran over to the porch and grabbed the box in between the inner and outer doors, Dillon told ABC News. The man also looked directly into the high-quality camera lens before grabbing the package.

The thief could be seen shaking the package, seemingly trying to figure out what was inside. He then ripped open the package and took a closer look at the earring box before heading back to his car.

“My wife and my mother-in-law were in the backyard with our four dogs when this happened,” Dillon said. “I felt very violated.”

“How stupid and brave do you have to be to do something like this in broad daylight?” Dillon asked. “If he just snatched the box and left, we probably wouldn’t have found him.”

Dillon posted the surveillance video on his Facebook page, hoping that his friends could help him identify the suspect. Within a day, the video was shared more than 3,000 times, and he received numerous messages from strangers, telling him they had also been victims of this man.

When Police Officer Larry Craciunoiu watched the surveillance video, he said he recognized the suspect.

“He’s been known in the past to be involved in burglaries, thefts and other criminal activities,” Craciunoiu told ABC News. “I have a pretty good working knowledge of him.”

“It was an extremely high-quality video,” Craciunoiu said. “The cameras were positioned perfectly.”

“I approached him and I told him: ‘Before we waste a lot of time, do you want to talk about this FedEx package?’” Craciunoiu said.

“He first said: ‘I didn’t know anything about it,’” the officer said. “Then I showed him the picture of him staring at the camera.”

“He laughed, and said: ‘I’m not stupid,’” Craciunoiu said. “I asked him: ‘’Why did you still steal this stuff then?’”

Nelms refused to talk about the case, Craciunoiu said.

“We are working on another case of a suspect who broke into a lady’s Cadillac in the same area on that day,” Craciunoiu said. “We have pretty good evidence that he [Nelms] was the one who did it.”

Craciunoiu said Nelms also has two warrants for theft.

“It was pretty clear that he was following the FedEx truck. It was very intentional,” the cop said.

Dillon said he has not received the earrings back. He has checked local pawn shops, but had no luck.

Dillon said he has contacted Zale.com, and the website said it needs 10-14 days to investigate this case.

“The website automatically offers signature-required shipping for anything over $100,” Dillon said. “But when the package was shipped, the delivery man just shoved it between the two doors in the security video. He didn’t buzz at all.”

“I hope either Zale.com or FedEx will take care of this,” Dillon said.

Brandon Nelms has not entered a plea yet.

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Michelle Obama: Veteran Homelessness ‘Should Horrify Us’

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As Congress works on a long-term plan to reform the Veterans Administration, first lady Michelle Obama used her platform to speak out on ending veterans’ homelessness.

Speaking to an estimated 1,600 federal and local officials as well as homeless advocates, the first lady said one possible way to end homelessness nationwide is to start with our homeless veterans.

Mrs. Obama called the more than 58,000 homeless American veterans a “stain on the soul of this nation.”

“As Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform is sleeping on the ground should horrify us,” she said.

“That moral and patriotic duty is only part of the reason why ending veteran homelessness is so critical. As we all know, ending homelessness for our veterans can also be a crucial first step, a proof point to show that we can end homelessness for everyone in this country,” she continued.

The first lady called the work of homeless advocates “critically important.”

“Day after day, as you fight for more resources, you encounter too many folks who don’t take you seriously, because they don’t believe that we will ever truly be able to solve this problem…Yet when so many others accept homelessness as a fact of life, you refuse to give up,” she said. “I just want to say thank you.”

Mrs. Obama has made ending veterans’ homelessness a priority during her tenure as first lady, calling it a “moral outrage” at a White House event last month launching the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

Since June, 182 local leaders have taken the challenge to end veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015.

“We are seeing that with enough resources and the right strategies — strategies like housing first, rapid rehousing — we can make huge amounts of progress in a very short period of time,” the first lady said.

In an op-ed published Wednesday, Mrs. Obama pointed to success in Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

“Any number of veterans left out in the cold is too many, but those numbers show us that even in some of our largest metropolitan areas, ending veteran homelessness is eminently achievable,” she wrote.

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More than 100 Protesters Arrested Outside White House over Deportations

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — More than a hundred demonstrators intentionally had themselves arrested outside the White House on Thursday in protest against the Obama administration’s response to the sudden surge of illegal immigrants across the border with Mexico.

The act of civil disobedience was organized mostly by religious groups, including the Catholic Sisters of Mercy and the United Methodist Church.

Several hundred additional supporters looked on as the activists staged a sit-in on the sidewalk outside the White House grounds, prompting National Park Service police to remove and arrest them for obstructing foot traffic in a highly choreographed, but peaceful, demonstration.

“We are gathered here to make our voices heard,” the Rev. John McCollough said in a prayer service before the arrests. “We are here to pray for this president, our President Obama, to ask him to lose the bonds of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Si se puede!”

The demonstrators demanded the Obama administration cease the deportation of an estimated 1,100 of those illegal immigrants per day — a number expected to rise as the federal government grapples with the hundreds of thousands believed to have slipped through in the last nine months, and a 106% increase over the same period last year.

Roughly 57,000 are children, many unaccompanied by their parents and fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. The deluge has created a humanitarian crisis in southwestern states as federal and local authorities struggle under the load.

“You know religion, in all its diversity, is really not about what we believe. Religion — real religion — is about what our beliefs compel us to do,” Sister Eileen Campbell of the Sisters of Mercy said from the podium. “How they make us live our lives. Our faith compels us to do all that we can for those that are suffering the injustices of our current immigration policies and to do all we can to move those policies toward justice.”

The White House announced last week it was considering a pilot program, based in Honduras, which would allow children of that country to apply for refugee status rather than risk dangerous northward smuggling across thousands of miles. But while there is bipartisan agreement in Washington that the situation is spiraling out of control, a concrete path forward has been less than clear.

The Senate voted Wednesday to move a bill forward that would allocate $2.7 billion in funding for the crisis. Eleven Republicans joined with the Democratic majority to pass the bill, though at least $840 million has been earmarked for wholly unrelated projects, including Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

It is $1 billion less than President Obama had asked for and a package being considered in the GOP-controlled House is much smaller: $659 million. With Congress’ August recess approaching and political jockeying in full steam, ahead of the November midterm elections, a short-term solution may be out of reach.

Acts of civil disobedience outside the White House are not unusual and several groups present Thursday have histories of such, but the size of Thursday’s arrest is more rare. Protesters taken into custody are typically transferred to the city’s metropolitan police for processing and released after.

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First Lady on Ending Veterans’ Homelessness: ‘We Take Care of Our Own’

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As Congress works on a long-term plan to reform the Veterans Administration, first lady Michelle Obama used her platform to speak out on ending veterans’ homelessness.

Speaking to an estimated 1,600 federal and local officials as well as homeless advocates, the first lady said one possible way to end homelessness nationwide is to start with our homeless veterans.

Mrs. Obama called the more than 58,000 homeless American veterans a “stain on the soul of this nation.”

“As Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform is sleeping on the ground should horrify us,” she said.

“That moral and patriotic duty is only part of the reason why ending veteran homelessness is so critical. As we all know, ending homelessness for our veterans can also be a crucial first step, a proof point to show that we can end homelessness for everyone in this country,” she continued.

The first lady called the work of homeless advocates “critically important.”

“Day after day, as you fight for more resources, you encounter too many folks who don’t take you seriously, because they don’t believe that we will ever truly be able to solve this problem…Yet when so many others accept homelessness as a fact of life, you refuse to give up,” she said. “I just want to say thank you.”

Mrs. Obama has made ending veterans’ homelessness a priority during her tenure as first lady, calling it a “moral outrage” at a White House event last month launching the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

Since June, 182 local leaders have taken the challenge to end veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015.

“We are seeing that with enough resources and the right strategies — strategies like housing first, rapid rehousing — we can make huge amounts of progress in a very short period of time,” the first lady said.

In an op-ed published Wednesday, Mrs. Obama pointed to success in Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

“Any number of veterans left out in the cold is too many, but those numbers show us that even in some of our largest metropolitan areas, ending veteran homelessness is eminently achievable,” she wrote.

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